A cup of nostalgia

Grapevine 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Grapevine 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
■ CITY LANDMARKS are disappearing all over Israel as real-estate developers buy up old properties, demolish them and put up futuristic high-rise towers in their stead.
In both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, movie theaters have gradually disappeared, and while it’s true that multiplex cinemas were constructed in some places, in others they were replaced.
The End, a documentary film about the disappearing cinemas in Tel Aviv, will be screened at DocAviv on May 4. Two examples in Tel Aviv of landmark disappearances were cinemas in the Ramat Aviv Mall and the much more veteran Wissenstein photo studio at 30 Allenby Street, near the corner of Ben-Yehuda. There were also Tel Aviv coffee shops and bars such as California, Roval and Kassit that attracted poets, actors, politicians and prominent figures in society. All three have been written up in books and in the media as reminders of a past era.
In Jerusalem, the whole area around Mahaneh Yehuda has become gentrified.
Farther along Jaffa Road, the original Steimatzky store and its neighbors disappeared some years ago to make way for the new, sophisticated Hamashbir, which is much more expensive than any of the stores in the Hamashbir chain in the past. Fink’s Bar on King George Avenue, which attracted British Mandate and United Nations officials, film stars, politicians, journalists and spies, has been relegated to the dust of history and has been replaced by one of the eateries in the Ne’eman chain. Restobar on the corner of Aza and Ben-Maimon was closed several weeks ago because the new owner, French business tycoon Laurent Levy, insisted that the restaurant, which was a bastion for the secular community, be closed on Shabbat and change its menu from non-kosher to kosher. Levy has established other restaurants and bars in Jerusalem and forced them to change their menus and hours of operation. In the case of Restobar, proprietor Shahar Levy was not willing to make the change because he wanted to retain his regular clientele, who didn’t want to eat kosher and wanted to be able to eat bread and other leavened foods on Passover. The upshot was that with minimal warning, Shahar Levy closed shop, and Restobar, which was previously Café Moment, has ceased to function.
■ NOSTALGIA SEEMS to speak to anyone, even when it isn’t their own personal nostalgia. This may explain the extraordinary popularity of the Kaveret rock band founded in the early 1970s by Danny Sanderson. The band broke up after three or four years and had three sold-out reunions in 1984, 1990 and 1998. Tickets for their upcoming reunion at three shows at the Israel Festival in June were snapped up so quickly that the group agreed to give an additional performance in Tel Aviv.
This will be the 40th anniversary of their initial get-together, which says a lot for their combined ongoing appeal. All the members of the group have continued to entertain solo or with other groups. Sanderson, who earlier this month performed in Haifa for physicians from the Haifa district, became a second-time grandfather just an hour and a half prior to the performance and told his audience that there wasn’t a more appropriate group with which to share the good news.
■ FAME DOES not mean that everyone will recognize your face. While some famous people prefer not to be recognized, especially by the paparazzi, there are situations in which failure to recognize them can lead to embarrassing and even humiliating situations.
Comedian Nadav Abecassis was invited last week to a well-known Tel Aviv nightclub by the club’s entertainment manager, who also happens to be one of his personal friends, as are the owners of the club. Abecassis had to stand in line for quite some time until he caught the attention of the selector, who refused to let him in because his name was not on the guest list. When Abecassis tried to explain that he had been invited and by whom, the explanation fell on deaf ears. While it’s true that Israel has security considerations that are less prevalent in other countries, the selection process is humiliating, especially in view of the fact that many selectors – even when there is no list – refuse to allow people with dark skin or Arabic names to enter.
Abecassis subsequently wrote on his Facebook page that he had visited many cities in the world and had not encountered selectors even in the most exclusive clubs. He considered himself to be a fairly even-tempered individual, he wrote, but when he was humiliated, denied entry and virtually ignored, he lost his cool. He wondered about the feelings of people who are constantly denied entry for reasons of discrimination.
In this respect, Israel is not unlike Poland and Germany, where government policies make anti-Semitism and other forms of racism a criminal offence, but where there is ample evidence of skinheads and others actively practicing anti-Semitism and racism in defiance of government policy. In Israel, the government frequently speaks out against all forms of racism, but there are enough rotten apples in the barrel to stain Israel’s image as a liberal democracy.